Dealing with the mundane tasks in life

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Last week, I cleared the used dinner plates before washing the dishes as my husband tapped away on his laptop. I recall thinking;

“I would rather be doing anything but this.”

“What life must be like for those who are free from housework; washing the dishes, cleaning, ironing – the whole shebang.”

I think, actually I know it was the rice grains splattered all over the kitchen floor that set me off. My toddler son has not quite mastered the art of keeping his meals above table level!

Do not get me started on washing clothes. I am either loading or unloading the washer dryer. I wash at least one load a day to avoid a pile up and the basket is still rarely empty. It is an ongoing battle and I should really accept that running a home is a juggling act. 

In my opinion, there are far more interesting tasks that I could be getting on with.  Perhaps having this mindset whilst carrying out my household duties is somewhat of a stumbling block. It clouds my mind and brings out a little resentment and feelings of “woe is me”. 

My husband does more than his fair share in the home so I cannot complain.  We are also teaching our children to tidy up after themselves, which of course helps us but will also set them up for the future.   Self sufficiency is important amongst men and women.  I have heard a number of cases where 18+ year olds on university campus cannot wash clothes, clean or cook.  They were never taught as children so have no clue. 

As mundane as these tasks may be, they are essential in order for us to function. The attitude we have whilst approaching these tasks can make all the difference.

I mentioned in a much earlier blog post (maybe six months or so) that listening to music, audio bible or a teaching helps me stay focused.  The noise keeps me company as I like to do housework alone but feel cut off from my family members. 

What is your approach to dealing with the mundane? 

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32 thoughts on “Dealing with the mundane tasks in life”

  1. Thanks for sharing Phoenicia. Attitude has a lot to do with taking care of mundane tasks. I remind myself that these tasks keep people grounded, so the discipline factor is my motivation. If that doesn’t work, then blasting cheesy pop songs while washing the dishes for example takes my mind to another place haha.

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  2. I am a bit ‘hit-or-miss’ in my approach to mundane tasks: some of them I deal with promptly but for others I procrastinate. Some mundane tasks are less tiresome than others: my ‘favorite’ mundane task would probably be yardwork, which serves the all-important purpose of getting me out of the house and into the outdoors.

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  3. Many nice ideas above. Indeed, I also try to look at doing some day to day duties as changing my normal activity (for example, wash the dishes between doing different work tasks if i work from home) and also I try to combine different thing to make it more useful/interesting/self0educating (for instance, listening to some podcasts/following the news while dressing up to work)

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  4. Actually, I view the “mundane” as a welcomed break. I spend most of my days writing so taking the time to do a few things that give my already overworked brain a rest are appreciated, and some days, sorely needed!

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    1. Good way if looking at it Marquita. Writing is slotted into my life around working full-time, raising a family and church ministry/leadership. I cannot imagine having hours in the day to focus solely on writing. Perhaps one day.

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  5. I actually had no idea how to cook when I turned 18. I remember reading a cookbook for students to figure out how to boil pasta and I felt so accomplished once I did it correctly. My mother never taught me how to cook. She hated cooking and once I moved out, my dad retired and he started cooking because to him it was novel and fun.

    The only thing that keeps me sane while doing housework is listening to music. I wouldn’t get through it if it were not for that.

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  6. You need a dog, Phoenicia. Then you’d never have to worry about those rice grains on the floor. There are some mundane tasks that I actually find relaxing, like painting or mowing the lawn.. But not the never-ending day to day stuff like washing dishes or doing laundry. My wife and I pretty much split this stuff up, except for personal quirks like I won’t iron and she won’t wash pots. But that doesn’t make it any less tedious.

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    1. Ken – I would much rather clear up rice grains than take on the responsibility of caring for a dog.

      Hearing a lawn mower in motion brings on all things summer for me. I am not keen on outside noise but welcome this one.

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  7. Phoenicia, your post brings to mind the old and wise Zen Buddhist teaching: “Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.” I’ve been known to feel grumbly on occasion with chores. What I try to do is remind myself of this quote. I also tell myself how satisfied I’ll feel when the job is done! Seems to help. 🙂

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  8. One of my prioritizing issues that clashes with freelancing is how I will focus on getting mundane tasks done. It’s silly to feel like work can only start when everything is done. I live alone now, so I’ve gotten so much better about learning how to let things slide. I guess I don’t mind mundane tasks because the completion of any task always brings a sense of accomplishment.

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    1. I struggle to block out the small things that need doing in order to focus on projects. For this reason I focus best at night when toys are cleared away, kitchen is spotless and children are asleep. I tried several times to carry out projects when children are around and found it pointless and frustrating.

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  9. Hi Phoenicia,
    Your post expressed the feelings that many working women have – that these mundane tasks are holding us back from doing what is really important to us! I can remember feeling this way for YEARS, when I was working, going to school, and trying to raise two young children. What helped me to get over these feelings was learning about women who had suffered great tragedies and no longer had the ability or opportunity to do the washing, cooking, or cleaning up: a child had died,or the woman became paralyzed in a car accident, or a job loss led to homelessness, or a chronic illness left her unable to do even simple tasks. After I saw several of these situations, I began to give thanks that I had small chiildren to care for, that I had my mobility, that my job was fairly secure, etc. It’s all a matter of perspective.

    Rin

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    1. Yes, we can become complacent with “our lot” and forget that someone has it much worse. Not that we should ponder or delight in this but recognise that nothing stays the same.

      Thank you for your encouraging words.

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  10. Hi Phoenicia. Yes, having music on is a favourite of mine while preparing dinner. My husband is such a slow eater that I always have the dishes done by the time he’s finished eating, and then we relax together for the evening. I find that balance is the key to happiness, and as long as I have enough “me time” and time away to travel (my 1st passion) I am happy and OK with doing the mundane tasks at home.

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  11. Since I’ve worked at home for the last five years, early on I decided to build those mundane tasks into my workday in order to get me out of my office and–particularly–moving my body! Sitting or even standing at my desk all day is a bad thing.

    When I’m whining about the amount of laundry my husband generates (think three year old with food spatters on everything!), I try to say: hey, you have a washer and a dryer, how cool is that? Noble? Sure. Does it work? Not too often!

    I wrote a post a few years ago: “There Will Be Dust Bunnies in My House” that sums it up. Mundane is boring and boring is bad and dust bunnies will roam around. Oh well!

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    1. Mundane certainly is boring. I have always been ordered and sensible and some times I feel like doing something so out of character. Life is as fun as we make it – right?

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  12. There’s no avoiding doing mundane things. Even the richest person in the world needs to do boring things like having a shower. So I just do them because, for instance, when it comes to having a shower, I would start smelling otherwise:-). Would be nice though to have a robot doing all such things for you.

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    1. Funnily I do not find showering boring but I do get your point. This is why I like holidays. It takes you away from your routine. The only two questions I need ask are what am I going to eat and what am I going to wear?

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  13. Phoenicia, if I could have one thing it would be a housekeeper to manage all those tasks you mentioned. They need to be done but there are so many other more interesting things to do.

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  14. Great question. I just do the chores no judgement on the tasks at hand. The reason why is it helps me reconnect and refocus on what I need to do in my business or life. There are a number of times that I actually have sparked inspiration for a business project while I am cleaning. I hope that makes sense. Thanks for asking.

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